We’ve been away on the West Coast Swing of the book tour.
Well, okay, that’s a little grand. We had a Selected Shorts gig in Berkeley and we scrambled to get as many book signings as possible while we were in the area.
Anyway, the idea was I’d book the flights and then bill it all back to the rightful people after the trip. So I found something online called Cheapo Air and I booked the whole deal through them. And there, my faithful readers, begins a tale.
Cheapo gave us a flight to San Francisco that was on Alaska Air. No problem – I love Alaska Air. Many nice experiences with them. We’re in the taxi, approaching JFK and the driver says, “I don’t see Alaska Air. There’s no Alaska Air here.”
‘Well,” I say, all puffed up. “I have it right here on my itinerary – Alaska Air, flight … so and so …” and he goes around again and he’s quite correct – Alaska Air is not on the board.
Jill hops on the cell phone. I’m now into my travel anxiety, giving tense a new name.
“Hi” she says. “We’re flying this morning from JFK to San Francisco at 10:00AM on Alaska. What terminal do we go to?”
And they tell her – the nice people from Alaska – that it’s a Delta flight because Alaska doesn’t fly out of New York.
Why didn’t our people tell us that? Because they’re Cheapo, that’s why.
Cut to the trip home:
We get to SFO and the curbside guy tells us he can check us in. He’s very confident about it. He doesn’t let us touch our bags, he snaps to his computer like the pro he is – he’s looking for a tip and I’ve already fished it out of my wallet. And then his face darkens, there’s a tension around his eyes, and I’m thinking, “Cheapo Air is giving me the shaft again.”
And sure enough, there’s a problem. Our man tells us to schlep our luggage inside and talk to the powers that be. Everyone who looks us up in the computer gets a big furrow in their brow.
“What’s the problem?” I ask.
“Your birth dates are not in the record. Security.”
“Here! Here’s my birth date. It’s right on my Drivers License.”
‘I’m sorry, sir. You’ll have to wait in this line.” And he sends us to a long, slow line that’s rife with suspected terrorists and felons.
You get what you pay for.
We did eat well on our trip, however. Two high spots were Gather in Berkeley and Picco in Larkspur. We hit Gather between shows on Sunday, joined by some old pals who saw the show. Jill was delighted by the vegan choices and since I tend to eat lightly before a show, she and I shared the Vegetarian platter and it was one of the best combinations of taste in texture in recent memory. It was billed as a Vegan Charcuterie and went like this:
1. Citrus – pistachio, coconut milk, fermented black bean
2. Trumpet mushroom – Cannellini bean, spring onion, horseradish, herb salad
3. Chickpeas – dried Habañero, English pea, cilantro
4. Mushroom tartare – spring vegetables, radish salsa
Each bite, slathered onto crusty bread, was heaven on a stick.
Picco was a party, too. There were eight of us and everyone was hot to share the food. Everyone thought that was a good idea – except me, of course.
“If you’re sharing,” our waitperson said as we sat down, “I have a few suggestions.”
And at the top of the menu, it says, “Designed to share … “I was stymied. There was no way I could go into my rant about wanting to eat what I ordered and nothing else. It was a party and I didn’t want to be the pooper, so to speak.
The food was great, I must say. Top-notch. There were shots of English pea gazpacho with Dungeness crab; avocado bruschetta; sautéed broccoli with preserved lemon; pappardelle with duck ragú; risotto with peas and carrots, made from scratch each half-hour (a really nice touch); their crispy fried chicken; all served with bottles of a nice aglianico from Campania.
If you have to share, Picco is a very good place to do it. And they have a pizzeria next door, which everyone tells me is great. Next time.